Trouble With The Curve

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Here's my semi-cynical take: There are only three or four reasons to see this movie, and they are: Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, and (arguably) John Goodman. Replacing those folks with equivalently-aged lower-downs on the Hollywood totem pole, say Rod Taylor, Alyson Hannigan, Simon Helberg, and Dan Aykroyd (talented as they are), and you've got a straight-to-Lifetime-Network movie. Or maybe the Hallmark Channel. Either way, the only way I would watch it would be if I were bedridden, and I couldn't get to the remote.

But there's a reason those folks are big stars. Because they make this outstandingly lame script work pretty well, even as you're realizing how lame it is.

Mr. Eastwood plays Gus. He's a cranky widower, and a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves, devoutly protected by his boss, Pete (Mr. Goodman). But all kinds of trouble is coming Gus's way: his eyesight is deteriorating, and young asshole whippersnappers in the Braves organization have watched Moneyball too many times, and think they can just crunch the stats and compute which players to draft; no need for the old geezers like Gus to actually watch them play.

Pete's concerned about Gus, and importunes Gus's semi-estranged daughter Mickey (Ms. Adams) to visit while he's on tour in North Carolina, evaluating a prospective young hitter. Mickey is a hard-charging lawyer, and her visit puts her long-desired promotion in jeopardy. Gus's and Mickey's interaction is tempestuous, and things are further complicated by Johnny (Mr. Timberlake), the scout assigned to evaluate the same player. He quickly develops a Thing for Mickey. (And who wouldn't? It's Amy Adams.)

Everything is extremely predictable. Personalities are taken straight from Richard Scarry's Big Book of Stereotypes. The only surprising thing: the ending is driven by a deus ex machina so completely coincidental and fortuitous that Dickens himself probably would scoff at it.

Still, I had a good time. Because: Eastwood, Adams, Timberlake, Goodman.